Post Office Refusing to Deliver

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This topic contains 36 replies, has 20 voices, and was last updated by  terryj 1 month, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #68424

    Dave
    Participant

    Just got a letter from the Ballard branch of the post office informing us that they will no longer deliver to our house, because our dog was in the front yard yesterday. About two years ago, our dog squeezed under the side fence into the front yard (which is also fenced). The local postmaster came by and told us if the dog was ever in the front yard again, they would permanently cease delivery. Our dog is neither aggressive or menacing,but setting that aside, because the front yard is fenced, the postman never was in any danger – he didn’t enter the yard that day, just sent his boss over later to chew us out. Yesterday, two years after “incident” no. 1, a visiting guest let the dog into the front yard. Guess what? We get a letter today that we now must pick up our mail at the P.O. I understand a postman not wanting to get bitten, but the dog was not running loose, nor was there ever any chance of direct contact unless the postman opened the front gate. Seems absurd that in the six years we have owned the dog, because she has managed to weasel her way into the front yard twice, we’re now blackballed. I’m sure we’ll get a bunch of “blah blah” about safety coming first, but this is akin to expelling a student for making a gun shape with her hand – this wasn’t a situation where the dog bit a postman, or the postman was even in the yard with the dog.

    #68427

    gracie
    Participant

    I had a similar situation few years back. We had a mailman who was afraid of dogs. My dog was not aggressive – she was a bijon/poodle mix. He reported to office in Ballard that an “aggressive, vicious dog” attacked him. SO NOT TRUE. Also my mail would no longer be delivered. I was pissed & went down & asked to speak to the head person down there. I brought my dog with me & his first comment “that’s the dog?”. Needless to say my mail is delivered to this day.
    I can see mail carriers and dogs but this guy was way over the top. I was walking my dog, had her on leash & here comes this guy. My dog was under complete control. He instantly goes for his teargas cannister & visibly shaking and putting mailbag in front of him, yelling keep your dog back, don’t let your dog bite me. I’m going to spray her with this. We weren’t even close to him and he was shaking in his boots over a small bijon/poodle mix. I told him if you are so afraid of dogs, should consider a career change where he wouldn’t be subjected to his greatest fear. And I said it nicely – knowing otherwise wouldn’t hear me.
    Our next mail carrier was best buds with my dog.
    Might bring your dog and talk to the head guy down at main office in Ballard (by Fred Meyers). It is worth a try.
    And maybe – not sure of your yard setup – if this is an issue – have mailbox outside of fenced area (like on a pole) and that way if dog in yard, no “threat” to mailman. Then they have no right to hold your mail just because dog is outside.

    #68432

    Mondoman
    Participant

    The layout is a bit unclear from your post, Dave. Does the postman have to go into the front yard to be able to access your mailbox? If so, then having a dog there could potentially be an issue. Remember, dogs don’t always behave toward strangers the way they behave toward their families, so it’s not totally ridiculous for someone (who may not be a dog person) to have concerns.
    As gracie suggests, these types of issues are best resolved in person. In addition, if you show an up-front willingness to make changes to the yard setup to help resolve the letter carrier’s concerns, they’ll be more likely to want to work with you. Superficial, maybe, but I’ve seen it work.

    #68433

    gracie
    Participant

    +1 Mondoman.

    #68441

    Avocado Head
    Participant

    Agree with above, head down to Ballard branch and plead your case! For what it is worth, every experience I have had there, I have gotten customer service that was AMAZING compared to the post offices in bigger, more urban areas that I have dealt with most of my life…

    I think I am getting the impression that your mail box / slot is inside the fenced in front yard? If so, I guess the fallback option might be a box mounted outside the fence. (Then there’s the mail thieves to consider… ugh)

    Good luck sorting this silliness out!

    -Avo

    #68446

    Dave
    Participant

    Mondo I would agree that the mailman should not have to enter a yard with a loose dog. we don’t keep the dog in the front yard. It was an isolated incident.

    To clarify, the mailbox is by the front door, so the mailman needs to enter the gated front yard to deliver. This is why the dog isn’t allowed in the front yard during the day. Twice in two years she managed to get into the front yard. Once by slipping under the fence that divides the back yard from the fenced front yard and once (yesterday) when a relative let her into the front. Both times the mailman, understandably, did not enter the front yard and skipped our house. This time we got a letter saying that we will no longer get delivery and that unless we make alternative arrangements within ten days all mail will be returned to sender. And, as an additional f.u. the letter states that this incident (of our dog being in our own fenced yard) will be reported to animal control. Again, there was no contact between our dog and the mailman, the issue was just that the dog was in the yard when he attempted to deliver our mail. If we always kept the dog in the front I would understand the refusal to deliver, but it’s been twice in 2 years. why not just skip our house on the 1 day a year this has happened?

    #68449

    VeganBiker
    Participant

    Dave – I know what you are going through. My wonderful pit bull, who passed away last year, caused a bit of a problem for me at two different homes. First one was up at 31st and 80th and I ended up putting a mail box on a post just outside the gate. The gate was low enough that any parcels could be dropped over the gate. Our current location has a 6 foot fence and a mailbox in the fence accessible from both sides, but for packages we have to leave a note on the gate that the dog is inside, then they will deliver. Personally I never fault any delivery person, because they really do not know the nature of the dog in any home and many have been threatened or attacked, so they are well within their rights to refuse to deliver if a dog is in the yard and unattended.

    #68452

    gracie
    Participant

    I still think it would be totally worthwhile to go down there and talk to the person face to face. And bring your dog to show it is not a threat. And maybe you could put the mailbox (locking kind) right outside the gate. I came close to doing that this year because of issue with a mail carrier (my mail goes through slot in door). But things worked out.
    Good luck with yours.

    #68458

    great idea
    Participant

    I personally don’t know if bringing your dog down there will help, but I am curious how they’d respond.

    your episode reminds me of this similar incident I saw recently on crosscut:
    http://crosscut.com/2014/05/19/seattle/120047/dog-bites-development-alison-krupnik/?page=single

    #68461

    Angeline
    Participant

    I think you should talk to the P.O. We had a similar issue and were allowed to move the mailbox out to the sidewalk. And actually our transgression was much worse — the dog was out in the unfenced front yard. We were with the dog, but he wasn’t on a leash. Nothing happened, but I can appreciate that the mail carrier didn’t want to find out the hard way.

    In your case, I think you have a point that the carrier could simply have refused to deliver the mail on that day, but I’m not sure they will accept that logic.

    #68466

    Shelley
    Moderator

    Good discussion.

    My brother’s ex-wife was a post(wo)man in Louisiana, and got bit a couple of times. It’s very traumatic, and affected the way she viewed all dogs afterwards. She would hear a dog snarl and just quiver.

    When we lived in California (more than 25 years ago), our whole block got blackballed by the Post Office because a stray dog showed up one day and snarled at the Postman. It wasn’t easy to get mail delivery turned back on even after the stray hadn’t been seen for months.

    It can’t really hurt to move the box, and a few dollars spent on the hardware / new mail box would be well spent for the postman’s nerves.

    #68467

    Bean Dogger
    Participant

    This is the problem you will encounter with the PO. PO management will take any opportunity to “discipline” Letter Carriers for the smallest transgression. The rule is if there is a dog in the yard the carrier CANNOT deliver under any circumstances. If for some unknown reason the carrier is bitten he/she may be fired. Yes, that is how bad the PO treats it’s employees. So most carriers will not take the chance and report the potential dog problem. Also, if the regular carrier just looks the other way and delivers the mail and a substitute is bitten then the regular carrier can be “disciplined” for failing to report the dog problem. Then you have people who do not control dogs who are aggressive and do cause problems for everyone. The best solution is to move your mail box so the carrier can deliver without entering your yard.

    #68469

    pennygirl
    Participant

    I wouldn’t worry about Animal Control. What is the PO going to say? That your dog was spotted in your fenced yard, twice in two years?

    #68471

    SmartsyArtsy
    Participant

    VB, that is terrible that the PO treats their carriers so callously.

    Now something makes sense to me. This past week I noticed a new post and personal mailbox on the grassy area near the curb on a street in Loyal Hts. It is in front of a fully fenced front yard with a bulldog. My thoughts immediately went to the potential of anyone easily taking their mail.

    I know the mailman in the area is terrified of dogs. He once threatened to not deliver to a neighbor because Lillie had just jumped out of the car and he was scared of her– really scared (car was parked about 20 feet away from his path)

    #68472

    gracie
    Participant

    As far as taking dog with you if should do it, it totally changed everything when the supervisor at the post office saw my dog. The carrier had said it was a large menacing dog. He thought it was going to be a pitbull he was going to see and instead he saw Nikki, a bijon/poodle mix. He interacted with her and like I said, his first words “this is the dog?!” And that was several years ago and I still get mail.

    #68488

    great idea
    Participant

    gracie, bringing your dog might have been helpful because the mailman had given an inaccurate physical description of the dog.

    however, I doubt most postal workers are trained to judge a dog’s ability to be a menace, especially with the owner walking in carrying said pet.
    I’ve seen lots of small dogs, (a bijon in particular) that were quite nasty and were literally ‘ankle-biters’.

    #68492

    gracie
    Participant

    I didn’t say anywhere I walked in “carrying” my dog. She walked in, on a leash. She wasn’t an ankle biter. She weighed 20 pounds and size of a cocker spaniel. In fact she looked more like a cockapoo.
    And I agree a lot of “ankle biters” can be nasty – I got “attacked” by a chihuahua tied up at front door of Joanne’s in Ballard. Bit my finger, drawing blood & then attempted to bite my ankles. Like a dope I put my hand down for the dog to smell (open hand) and slowly approached saying hi, little one. And suddenly little one turned into Cujo! Live and learn.
    Nikki was never aggressive – she didn’t even defend herself when being attacked at Discovery Park by two German Shepherds and sustained injuries before I could get her away from them. Nor did she do anything when my then cat would latch onto her neck & bite hard “while playing.”She was a “lover not a fighter.”
    The mailman’s description made her sound like a really big pitbull type dog, even “salavating at the mouth.” But I guess when you are so phobic about dogs they would all look like that.
    But because I brought Nikki down there the manager unfounded the claim. But did tell me to not have her loose or in front yard unattended when mailman due. Which was a trip because that mailman came anywhere between 9:00 to 5:00 at night. Terrible carrier.

    #68500

    Dave
    Participant

    I think we’re going to have to move the box to the outside of the fence, which is unfortunate, as we live on a very busy street, with lots of foot traffic going past our house. By the way, I totally agree with the concept that the postman should not have to enter a yard with a dog in it. Its not his/her job to determine what dog is a biter and what dog is safe. So I have no complaints with the fact that mail was not delivered on the two days that were at issue. I do take issue with the concept that these two transgressions make our house unsafe to deliver to in general – that’s absurd.

    #68507

    Rudy
    Participant

    Dave, you could get one of those locking mailboxes that would help keep your mail safe when it’s towards the street.

    #68509

    pennygirl
    Participant

    Regarding locking mailboxes, if you can get enough of your neighbors to agree, the PO might install a box for multiple addresses. They did that in our neighborhood after a bout of mail theft, but it was a long time ago. I’m not sure if they offer that service now.

    Edit: To be clear, it isn’t a single locked box for multiple addresses! Each address gets their own box, but they are all centralized at one location.

    #68514

    Mondoman
    Participant

    Isn’t that multi-house mailbox pod also one of the “new” suggestions for reducing the USPS’ delivery costs? I think Canada Post has been using them in the big cities, too. You’ll be in even bigger trouble if your dog gets loose into your locked “pod” box!

    #68516

    pennygirl
    Participant

    It’s actually really handy for our mail lady. She can deliver to 9 houses at once – no dogs involved!

    #68530

    SmartsyArtsy
    Participant

    In VT I had a locked box in a 6 box structure that also had 2 large boxes for parcels. If a parcel was delivered for me, the mail person left a key for one of those boxes in my personal box. I have never had a mailbox that was not locked, and certainly would not want to have one on the street.

    #68556

    Dave
    Participant

    Spoke with the postmaster and agreed to put a box on the outside of the fence. Not good enough. I kid you not but he is concerned the dog could still extend her tongue through the fence. we have to place a pole away from the fence if we want our mail. I feel like I’m living in bizzaro world, but he’s got all the power in this situation.

    #68557

    pennygirl
    Participant

    That is ridiculous! Is the postmaster now afraid of a friendly lick?!

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